By Graham K. Rogers
With the arrival of the latest version of 645 PRO, one of my favourite photo apps, and its new inclusion of manual controls, I abandoned my DSLR camera and relied wholly on the iPhone 5s and the app for a day which I normally dedicate to shopping. Using the app gave me a number of insights into its effectiveness and to the performance of the iPhone.
Usually the arrival of a new iPhone, iPad or the update to iOS is not the time to make comments about battery life. Users, naturally, want to play with the new installation - I do - and there are connections made by a new device for set up purposes. Unless the tester has sophisticated laboratory equipment and professional software, the impressions of a few users may not be the best guide.
So when approaching a road run of 645 PRO Mk III using my iPhone 5s which is almost a year old, it was clear to me that there would be an increase in battery use from the word go. I was not surprised when the iPhone died as I was heading home. Usually, despite my heavy use, the battery lasts for most of the working day, with some dips: for example when I use Keynote or show videos in a class.
Saturday always has heavy use. As well as the wifi, 3G (sometimes 4G I am told), GPS, email, messages, and other services that are all on, I access podcasts from the time I leave the apartment until I return.
I was so pleased with the new version of 645 PRO that I decided to leave my DSLR camera at home. Apart from making the backpack lighter and easing the load on my back, I was consciously aware of using the iPhone camera far more than usual: that was my plan - the road test - and that would also affect the battery. Not only that, but accessing the controls far more than usual - because I could - added to depletion: the new toy syndrome.
I made sure I knew how most of the important controls could be accessed and turned on the screen display, so that I would have a readout of settings as I changed them. I was already aware of selection for emulation of film types and settled on P41 for color, mainly because this was adjacent to X1 (a B&W film) so I could quickly switch between color and monochrome when I wanted. I did however work mainly in B&W with the X1 emulation.
When checking out the way the app allows changing of ISO rating, using square + and - buttons, I was aware that once or twice the screen thought I was selecting that point for focus rather than tapping for an adjustment. I was able to compensate by tapping a different part of the screen when I wanted such adjustments to ISO.
All the images here have been tweaked with straightening, exposure and contrast where needed, plus some sharpening. I was more interested in the potential of any final output.
I had mentioned in a brief review I wrote about the app last night, that I found the control wheel a little fiddly. During the day, a Tweet from the developer acknowledged the point, but asked if I had tried settings > Advanced > Mode Dial where there was an option called "Carousel."
Aware of the problem of small dials and large fingers, provision had been made for people like me and I was able to turn on a display feature that spread each part of the control wheel across the screen, so I could tap on the specific feature I needed.
That clever solution fixed the immediate problem, but the message suggested I persevere: you will get used to it (but if not, we have you covered). Nicely done. The enlarged display also makes it clear exactly what each item is for, but that would quickly be redundant for those who use the app regularly.
With the rainy season here, the weather can be a little unpredictable, so instead of the bright blue skies I expected, it was a little dull and overcast, which limited the use of low ISO numbers for the rich blues that are possible.
The app, along with the iPhone camera itself, was better performing in conditions where light was not optimal. A number of shots within the Bangkok BTS system and stations - both color and monochrome - work fairly well. I deliberately switched to the black and white X1 for the station interiors to see how the poorer light would affect contrast. Not bad.
Bear in mind too that the images I have are TIFF images of over 20 MB. The images here have a maximum of 1024 pixels on the longest side, so the quality on the website is compromised.
Back home, after the iPhone had its battery partially replenished, I took a couple more shots. I have a good view which is part urban with some good green patches. As it was still overcast, I used different film settings: V50 and K11 because of the contrasts.
I used the lowest ISO setting (32) for the first color shot (V50) which was a little dark, but had problems with monochrome shots (and some color photos too) as the screen would sometimes display almost all white as if it were being flooded with light. It would then display the scene correctly, then flood again. This was not something I had experienced with the simpler Manual app. A quick switch to the Auto settings cleared that.
I later tried again and found that this was when I was facing the sun, even though it was high in the sky and partially obscured by clouds. I was able to repeat this with Manual, so it would appear to be linked to the iPhone sensing, especially at low ISO numbers. Using automatic removed the problem, at least when I tried.
Just wait till the iPhone 6 arrives (rumored to be 24 October in Thailand). . . .
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.